google+Funny looking back at my older blog posts of Google+ here on the blog. It seems like every year I feel like I need to blog about how Google+ really is turning into a large part of my PLN. In fact over the last few weeks I have spent more time in Google+ than I have on Twitter…way more. The conversation I feel is deeper, more engaging and the communities….the sharing that happens in the communities is amazing. Much like the hashtag communities on Twitter the Google+ communities are rich with discussion, sharing and helping.

[box] Blast from the Past:

Dec. 2011: Google+ Reflection

Aug. 2012: Why You Should Be Playing with Google+ Now

Aug. 2013: 7 Google+ Communities You Should be following[/box]

If you only want two PLNs….Twitter and Google+ get my vote!

If you are just getting started with Google+ or you are a Google Apps school. The best thing you can do is put all the Google Products into a circle. Every Google App has it’s own account and they all are posting interesting tips, tricks and updates all the time.

Here are direct links to a few to get you started. You can search for the rest on your own.





Communities are still where I find I spend most of my time that an in Hangouts…oh how I love hangouts! There are way too many to list (although here are 7 Google+ Communities You Should be followinghere but if you’re looking for a community chances are it already exists.

Don’t knock it till you try it…..and maybe this summer your goal is to start playing with Google+. If you want a really nice how to guide to get you started this is the best one I know of out there.

See ya on the network!


As I sit here somewhere over California at 37,000 feet I’m excited for ISTE12 after missing it last year for reasons I can’t really talk about. 😉

But I’m back and ready to connect and reconnect with my PLN that for years now has supported me, pushed me, and even razzed me from time to time. ISTE is an interesting conference it is huge both in venue and in participants making it overwhelming to many and it definitly can be.

There is no shortage of bloggers and tweeters giving their advice on how to prepare for and have a succesful ISTE conference….everyone has their system their “how tos”. It is all great stuff. I think the bottom line is to have an approach. If you don’t you’ll be swallowed up quickly.

My approach is rather simple. Sit at the Blogger’s Cafe and connect with friends new and old. Maybe go to a session here or there that really looks interesting or that is someone who I want to see present. But really I’m here to connect with people. The content is great, but people are better. 

I think my favorite thing to do at ISTE is help people new to all this social networking get connected. In ’10 I remember sitting around helping a bunch of new tweeter educators get signed up and explaning to them just how this twitter thing works. Or talking about blogging and how to get started with it.

So that’s my approach at ISTE12 this year. Have conversations, help newbies who need it, and enjoy people. If you see me around please come say Hi, introduce yourself so we can start putting faces to names to twitter handles to blog titles. 

Ready or not ISTE12 is here!

I believe that part of my role, or any role of a teacher with a Personal Learning Network, is to use that network to spread the word when good things happen with your students. The Operation Smile group here at ISB continues to find ways to spread their message about their trip, about what they learned, and what you can do if you want to take part. Last weekend Ciel, a student on the trip sat down and decided to create a video. But as she said on the Women of the Web 2.0 podcast “I put it on YouTube because I wanted to spread the message.”

This is the now third video created by the group. The other two can be found here and here.

Because of my PLN and helping them to spread their message, they were invited to do a live podcast with th Women of the Web 2.0 crew yesterday. It was a great experience for the students and as students do so often they truly raised to the occasion. If you get a chance to listen to the podcast it’s funny to hear how at the beginning nobody wanted to talk and I was forcing the mic onto some of them, but about 5 minutes in, it changed and I was grabbing at the mic to get them to take turns. They did a great job of watching the chat room, grabbing questions and talking about their experience here at ISB and on Operation Smile. If you want to know what our school is like from a student prospective you’ll enjoy the first half of the podcast.

This is the power of the teacher (in this case me….married to the school counselor who went on the trip) having a PLN to help spread a message. A message that I, as the teacher felt was worth spreading. This is the power of a PLN not only for my own learning but to spread the messages of our students.

You can listen to the students (and my wife) on the podcast here or via iTunes here.

I leave tomorrow for the EARCOS Teachers Conference (Twitter hash and web tag #ETC09) where I’ll be giving four presentations.

My first one is on Networks and Communities and although my Twitter Network has pointed out to me this is not a new presentation for myself…I do feel like there is something different. I’ve pushing myself to think deeper about personal networks and online communities and I need to be clear about my message and what I believe before I step into the room…or at least clear enough so that those in the room can help me push my own thinking on the subject.

Ben Grundy via Twitter helped me when we started talking about RSS vs Twitter.

RSS is about finding content, Twitter is about finding people

Not sure about that statement but it’s one I put out on Twitter and as I write this post is still being bounced around. Like others I find myself using Twitter for many different purposes including finding content…but I followed people first…not the content.

In past presentations I have focused most of my time on using RSS Feeds for both learning and teaching and less time on Twitter. Has the time come for this to be reversed? Is the “Nearly Now” taking over the reader?

More to come as I continue to think….your thoughts welcome!

David Warlick wrote a post the other day about being able to zip up or turn off your Personal Learning Network (PLN). I too have been thinking about how one goes about starting a PLN, how do you monitor it, and how do you learn to shut it off. We all continue to push teachers to start PLNs if they haven’t already. Learning from the collective knowledge of educators around the world.

I have noticed an emerging trend of what one goes through when adopting a PLN for the first time. I myself continue to look at the stages I am going through in adopting this new way of learning, interacting, and teaching in a collaborative, connected world.

As I’ve helped others start their PLNs I have found that many of them go through these same stages. I am still trying to wrap my head around this but for now here’s what I see as emerging stages of PLN adoption.

Stages of Personal Learning Networks Adoption

Stage 1 Immersion: Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.

Stage 2 Evaluation: Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”

Stage 3 Know it all: Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realize there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minutes trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.

Stage 4 Perspective: Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).

Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.

Personally I continue to struggle with balance in my life between being connected and being here in person. I force myself to put down the computer and pick up the guitar. I force myself to take Screen Free Week off and reflect (I write blog posts on paper…a very strange experience) and I almost enjoy going on vacation with no Internet access and being “there”. PLNs are very powerful, but they are not all there is to life…and I’m just glad I have a wife who reminds me of that from time to time. 🙂

I’ve created this image as a way to show what I’m thinking. I believe there is also a correlation here with learning. As you immerse yourself into the network your learning increases, the more you learn, the more you want to learn, the more immersed you become within the network. Until you reach a point that you understand the fundamentals of Web 2.0, the direction of Education, or whatever it is that interests you and you have in your PLN to begin with.

I also do not believe you have to go through all these stages. Some people jump from stage 2 to stage 5 or do not become so immersed into their PLN that they ever reach stage 3, that sense of having to “know it all.”

If nothing else I hope this helps to frame some thoughts in your head around your own PLN. I’m just throwing this out there as a starting point…what are you thinking?


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